Campus CultureCulture

Seniors cope with the abrupt end to their last semester

Graphic by Maddie Ceglecki.

Eight years. One marriage. Two babies. One college degree.

Dallas Brady, senior psychology major, has held a difficult and unique story in her journey to gain a degree at Boise State University. However, while each person’s path to graduation may look different, the number of hours, money and hard work spent to become a senior on the precipice of graduating are immense.

“I’m devastated how COVID-19 has upended my last semester,” Brady said. “I’ve been going to school for 8 years now, so for this to happen so suddenly just as I’m about to reach the finish line, it really just sucks.”

With the abrupt transition to online classes and the spring graduation commencement becoming another side effect of COVID-19, Brady describes the missed opportunities and disappointment that seniors everywhere are experiencing.

Brady was supposed to present at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association in Denver this semester on a project that she was the main author on, but because of the current pandemic, she lost out on that authorship and the opportunity to network for potential careers.

“We’re getting a good idea of how the economy is going to look like after we graduate, so those missed opportunities because of COVID-19 could have helped us stand apart in the job market or going to grad school,” Brady said.

Even throughout all of this, Brady said that losing the commencement ceremony was most discouraging of all.

“I know I can walk in December, but depending on what happens with my finances, I may not be able to,” Brady said. “My kids were really excited to see me walk, but it may not happen since commencement is postponed.”

While it is understandable why precautions are being made, it certainly has not made it any easier for these students.

Caydon Burnett, a senior communication major, has been attending Boise State for four years and explained that graduation is probably where it hits hardest for him as well.

“The graduation commencement ceremony is supposed to be the climax of everything you’ve ever worked towards,” Burnett said. “It’s very symbolic and I think it’s a very significant event for students, families and friends. It’s a huge accomplishment, and commencement is how we showcase that accomplishment. So learning that it’s been canceled is very disappointing.”

While the spring graduates are still invited to a ceremony in December, Burnett does not believe it will have the same feeling or effect. At that point, he will be out of college for six months and may have potentially moved on to a new job or living situation.

“It’s great that they’re holding one, and it’s very respectful for them to do that,” Burnett said. “But it’s still hard to say if graduates from this semester are going to want to attend or if they’ll even be around in this area at that point.”

Deanalyn Smith, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, was disappointed at the cancellation of spring commencement, especially as a student who was requested to be a potential speaker at graduation.

“I’m not happy about it being postponed to December,” Smith said. “I’m in a master’s program as well, and I graduate that summer after December, so now I don’t see a point in going to the December graduation since I have another one so soon.”

With Smith and many of her friends and classmates being from out-of-state, she believes that even if she attends the December commencement, she will miss out on the opportunity to walk with friends who may not make the trip back to Boise months after they have finished classes.

While disappointment is a resounding feeling amongst the seniors of Boise State, President Marlene Tromp shared a video urging graduates to remain hopeful, as this setback will undoubtedly make the graduates stronger as they move into the next chapter of their lives.

“I truly believe that our students forged in the fire of this challenge will become more creative, nimble and innovative as a result,” Tromp stated. “You will be a new generation of leaders who have, in this experience, become path-finders, problem solvers and creators. […] Never forget, people do extraordinary things in times of great challenge.”

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